Should influencers with a sizeable following do more for social causes?
The court of public opinion seems to be favouring a ‘yes’. A verdict that can be attributed to growing anti-influencer sentiment coupled with the rise of ‘woke culture’. This notion is best evidenced by the George Floyd fuelled Black Lives Matter movement, where anyone and everyone with a following were hounded to speak out.
As the world’s leading gay Asian influencer, my next interviewee is certainly not immune to that pressure. When he voiced his support for #BLM however, he was met with a swift and relentless backlash. Some criticised him for doing the bare minimum. Others attacked him for not speaking out on other issues.
Dear Straight People,
Meet 34-year old Edison Fan, who boasts more than half a million Instagram followers, along with over 1 million followers on Weibo. With such a formidable following, Edison Fan is arguably the world’s leading gay Asian influencer. And it’s not hard to see why.
In a world where pretty muscled boys are a dime a dozen, Edison stands out from the rest. For starters, he is the face and founder of two successful fashion ventures – OMG Sportswear and U-Touch Underwear, which helps explain why his Instagram feed is anything but run-of-the-mill.
Peppered with magazine worthy shots from professional photoshoots, Edison’s feed is in a league of its own. Beautiful photos aside, his 3-year old son Frederick, whom he had through commercial surrogacy, makes him a particularly intriguing figure.
But 2020 presents new challenges to influencers. And I’m not just referring to the global pandemic.
There is growing pressure on those with a large platform to speak out on social issues. For Edison, one of the biggest criticisms against him, especially among his fans in China, is that Edison doesn’t speak out about the LGBTQ+ community enough. As one of China’s few openly gay public figures, that expectation is understandable. When I press Edison about this, he laments:
It is not like I don’t want to say inspirational things, it’s more that I just don’t have anything inspirational to say.
This might be a confusing statement to some. But in order to understand Edison’s perspective, there is a need to see where Edison came from.
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